Extending a helping hand to farmers in drought-stricken areas

Landmeterskop, known to the public mostly because of its popular holiday cottages, is a substantial farming operation which combines Dormer Merino sheep with wheat crops. The owners, Theuns and Valerie Steenkamp, recently were in a position – with the help of equally generous transport companies – to help other farmers in need.

Parts of South Africa are currently experiencing what some termed “the worst drought in a century”. Farmers in many areas of the country are facing disaster. On 3 February this year, the fourth consignment of animal feed that Landmeterskop donated to the farmers were loaded onto trucks. This time they were delivering to the West Coast. The transport of the load was sponsored entirely by Sean Myburgh and Donald Stockhall from DPMM Hauliers.

Danie Hefers of Fokus, an Afrikaans TV programme about social, economic and political affairs, was on Landmeterskop to film the event. (Watch Fokus on Sunday evening, 14 February 2016 at 18:30 – 19:00.)

Flip de Bruyn who co-ordinated all of this, explains: This incredible journey began one evening in Langebaan in December 2015. Chatting with a group of friends around the fire, Derrick Linde mentioned how his parents in Hertzogville were struggling from the effects of the severe drought in the area. Franco Koch (Derrick’s friend) had generously offered to help with feed but had no means to get it to Hertzogville. The plan seemed so simple in theory but putting it into action proved to be very challenging. As frustration mounted, my wife and I turned to prayer. Believing and trusting God to set the wheels in motion – literally! The next day I went to my friend Jacques Brand of Truck & Cargo. Jacques posted a request on Facebook for transporters willing to drive at no cost. Within three hours we had our first transporter and soon after many very enthusiastic offers came in. The first load soon left Moorreesbburg for Hertzogville. Soon we had willing transporters but no feed. Derrick Linde stepped in and put me in contact with Theuns Steenkamp – he had 500 bales of feed which he donated and off it went to Reddersburg, Bethlehem, Hertzogville, Bloemfontein and the West Coast. It is heartwarming to see how willing people are to step up to the plate when others are in need!

A memorable stay on Landmeterskop

Dear Valerie

Thank you again so much for the most wonderful time spent on Landmeterskop farm.

Not only did Mila have a fantastic time but so did we. From the accommodation, to the Du Bois home styled cooking everything was delicious and beautiful.

We would also like to give Tsala a special mention… she had such a good way with Mila, always including her and making her feel part of the “group”.

We certainly will be returning with friends.

Gosh, was it hard waking up this morning and going to work.

I have attached a few pictures of our stay.

Regards

Nadine and Allan

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Heifer-calf on a lead… and new chicks!

The latest addition to our family of animals at Landmeterskop, a heifer-calf, normally hangs out with a flock of lambs and our chickens in the paddock nearest to the farmhouse. When the lambs were brought in to the craal to be weighed, “madam” came along. The workers couldn’t separate her from the lambs, as she simply stayed in the middle of the flock. Eventually Louis managed to get a lead around her neck, and she obediently followed him back to the paddock.

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Valerie also recently had to fetch new Leghorn chickens as most of our laying hens are a little over two years old and will now start to lay less eggs. The first 2 years of a hen’s life is her most productive. By the time she’s 5 years old she will only lay half as frequently as she did during her first 2 years. While Louis and Luca were “unloading” the new chicks and making sure that  they had food and water and were settling in, Jack and Jesse, kept a close watch!

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A letter from Terry

Hi Valerie
It is more than a week since we left the farm or should I say tore ourselves away.
To write in the guest book is a great way of expressing the amazing stay we had, but I just wanted to personally thank you.
Thank you so much of allowing us to share a part of your piece of paradise. Everything was just so fantastic.
Janis (my wife) turned 60 on the day we arrived. She had no idea where we were going, only that I was taking her away for the week. I cannot tell you how excited she became when we entered the main gate and came around to the dam and saw a pair of Blue Cranes doing the dance. That was the start of our incredible stay.
We so enjoyed feeding the Lambs, the Ducks and the Alpacas! We felt like kids again! We even drank goats’ milk which was surprisingly nice.
Then there is Tsala! What a treasure you have in her. So efficient and friendly – a huge asset you have in her!  Wow!
We were sad to leave but we have tons of photos to look back on and I mean tons. Janis is an artist so she sees art in just about everything even the dew on the grass so she clicks and clicks away.
I hope when we next visit, we will meet. Please  give Tsala our regards
Warm Regards
Terry
 PS  I’ve attached a few pics
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Mr Potts and Mrs Belly join the Landmeterskop family!

Recently, Mr Potts and Mrs Belly, two pot-bellied pigs, joined our animal family on Landmeterskop. Although their very distant ancestors came from China, these two were born on a smallholding near Teslaarsdal, Caledon. In honour of their arrival, the pigsties on our farm had been restored! As pigs, and especially pot-bellied pigs, are very affectionate animals that love companionship and body closeness, and are often kept as pets. They can weigh anything from 43 to 136 kg, and can live up to thirty years. This pair had no trouble settling in with our other pigs, the Kolbroeks, and the alpacas, goats, chickens and human visitors. They are indeed very happy and thriving!

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Night Sky over Landmeterskop by Stephen Hammer

I was really looking forward to being able to photograph the night sky and Milky Way as the farm is an ideal venue to do this. Unfortunately, the weatherman didn’t play the game and we arrived at the farm in heavy overcast conditions and this made for very challenging photography light. After much digging through the archives in my head, I eventually came up with a game plan to show you guys what I was seeing… shoot the stars through the clouds!! Now that is not a photograph you often get to see.

These pics were all taken in and around the yard around the Duck Pond Room.

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This series shows the start and prep for a photograph of the Milky Way over the cottages. First pic is to get my framing right, the second shows the start of the Milky Way, and the last pic is the Milky Way “waking up”. I always think of this as God sprinkling his blessings on the farmers’ fields. This “tower” of stars is truly impressive. After the last photograph I was well and truly frozen (my own fault as I did not bring the proper clothing) and went off and had my supper

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These photographs were taken just before sunrise on Sunday morning @ ± 06h15. I was busy getting ready to go out and look for the Bat Eared Foxes, when I glanced out the window and saw this beautiful “Dragon of Stars”. I knew I only had a few minutes to get these photographs before there was too much light and I would not be able to photograph this.

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All these photos were taken by Stephen Hammer, Cape Town based wildlife photographer, and are copyrighted. We are very excited that Steve has agreed to do a series of photography courses in future here on Landmeterskop. We shall post the details of these soon!

For more of Steve’s work, visit his website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) & the field mouse!

Cape Town-based wildlife photographer Stephen Hammer and his wife, Lee-Anne, spent the weekend on Landmeterskop trying to capture our family of Bat-eared Foxes on camera. This first sequence of views was taken on the way to look for the shy little foxes on Sunday morning. It was truly beautiful to see… and quite cold up on the hill. The cold air is beautifully clear and haze-free. Winter is the time to photograph landscapes and Landmeterskop has some very good potential for this.

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The little Bat-eared Foxes did not put in an appearance, although Steve and Lee-Anne searched for them late afternoons and early mornings! But, Steve was fortunate to get this magnificent sequence of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) eating a field mouse.

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Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Afrikaans: Blouvalk

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Afrikaans: Blouvalk

The Black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII estimates there are about 100 000 Black-shouldered Kites in southern Africa, so if we assume each bird takes two mice a day, that adds up to about 70 million mice being consumed by this species alone every year. Think of how many mice there are out there that are not being eaten!

It prefers the grasslands probably because prey is easier to see than in the more densely-wooded lowveld.

Black-shouldered Kites are solitary hunters by day, yet often roost communally at night. They usually spend between 4 and 10 hours a day in flight, but also often hunt from a perch.

One of their characteristics is to hover (air-perch) in one place above the ground searching for prey. Black-shouldered Kites range widely. The longest range so far recorded was that of a bird ringed in the former Transvaal and recovered in northern Mozambique, 915km away. Another bird ringed at the same time was recovered in the opposite direction – in the Cape, 645km away.

Stephen’s website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

Steve also took beautiful photos of the night sky over Landmeterskop… and we shall post some of them soon! And we are very excited to announce that Steve has agreed to do a series of photography courses in future with us.